Friday, November 13, 2009

Election Recap

By Patrick Coughlin

On November 3rd, voters in New Jersey, southern New York and Virginia sent a message to the Democratic Party by defeating Gov. Jon Corzine, Westchester County Executive Andy Spano and Creigh Deeds in favor of Chris Christie, Rob Astorino and Bob McDonnell, respectively. Their decision clearly states that excessive taxation and rampant corruption will no longer be tolerated.

Whether or not this is a referendum on President Obama or the Democratic-controlled Congress is irrelevant. In tough times, people often vote out incumbents with the hopes that a simple change of the party in power will lead to prosperity. New Jersey and Virginia are cases in point: both states went to Mr. Obama in 2008, and both states voted in Republican governors on November 3rd. With that in mind, I personally believe that overall anti-incumbent sentiment won the day, regardless of whether policy has actually caused the recent hardships.

What is relevant is the reaction from Democrats following the election returns. On election night, Lawrence Otis Graham, an attorney and best-selling author, was providing election analysis for News12, a local media outlet for the Hudson Valley, a lower region of New York State. In his commentary, he argued that Republican candidates dominated in the aforementioned elections not because of strong Republican support, but rather low voter turnout among typical Democratic constituencies.

In 2008, former Republican presidential candidate John McCain trailed Mr. Obama in the polls for the majority of the race. After his defeat, I did not hear anything among conservatives that echoed the sentiment of Mr. Graham—virtually no one made the argument that Mr. Obama won because Republicans thought getting out to vote for Mr. McCain was a lost cause.

What I get from Mr. Graham’s argument is that when Democrats win, it is because the people support them wholeheartedly while Republicans only win because of Democratic apathy. This argument is outrageous and disgraceful. Westchester has the highest county taxes in the country and New Jersey has the 8th highest state tax rates in the country. Regardless of political ideology, voters respond when the government excessively raises unnecessary taxes.

Whether this will catapult the Republican Party to victories in the midterm elections is still unknown. But if members of the Democratic Party continue to make asinine comments like Mr. Graham did, it will not be long before voters become disgusted by Democratic arrogance. Perhaps it was arrogance that caused Democrats to not even put much effort into the races. Even if low voter turnout was the cause of the Democratic losses, it was due to the failure of Democrats to mobilize and energize their party around their values, not simple voter apathy.

This should be a wakeup call to Democrats that ignorance towards the citizens they serve will not be accepted. Moreover, Republicans must not squander this opportunity and must return to the party values of fiscal responsibility, limited government and individual accountability.